After having crossed this bridge several times during our trip in Charleston, it occurred to me that I had been on this bridge before. I knew quite well that could not be the case since I had never been to Charleston before this trip. Was this a premonition? A déjà vu? Or just the mind of a mad man? Ok in my case mad woman.
STOP! Don’t ask my husband, because I have no doubt, he will say the latter is correct.
Anyway, upon our return home I decided to do some research and sure enough I am not crazy! (OK no need for comments from the galley 😉) And no I had not traveled on this particular bridge before. But I had traveled many, many times on a very similar bridge.
The bridges I am referring to are the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge crossing the Cooper River and the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge crossing the Mississippi River. Both bridges are incredibly similar and each has had a totally different impact on their community.
Both bridges have the cable-stayed design, popularized by Spanish architect and structural engineer Santiago Calatrava. It is an attractive design incorporating sleek lines. This particular design has also been used to create a large sail on the roof of the Milwaukee Art Museum as well into a pedestrian bridge over the Reedy River Falls in downtown Greenville, South Carolina. China has all but adopted it as their official design given their extensive usage of the technique for some of the longest spans in the world.
The Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge opened to traffic in 2005. It was considered to be the longest cable-stay bridge in America, at the time, with a bridge span of 1,546 feet and a total project length of 3.5 miles, (it is now the third longest). The bridge opened up to traffic one year earlier than projected and under budget. The Arthur Ravenel Jr Bridge ( named after a retired U.S. Congressman Arthur Ravenel Jr.) is considered to be the second highest attraction in Charleston and that it provides four wide travel lanes in each direction and a 12 foot wide pedestrian/bicycle track.
Approximately nine years later, on February 9, 2014, the country’s latest crossing of the mighty Mississippi River, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge, opened to traffic. Stretching from downtown St. Louis into Illinois. The cable-stayed main span measures 1500 feet and is supported by a substantial amount of road on both the Missouri and the Illinois sides. At its opening, the bridge deck provided 4 travel lanes (two in each direction) The $695 million project included $264 million for the cost of the actual bridge with the balance used to re-route I-70 on both sides. The original cost for this bridge had been set to $1.7 million but since it had exceeded that amount some items were left on the cutting board, such as place for pedestrians and cyclists.
My research taught me that the only thing these two bridges have in common (loosely put) is a common design. After that, the two projects diverge rather significantly. Most significantly, the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge inherent lack of facilities for pedestrians and cyclists. To some this inherent lack of facilities took away the tourism opportunity that Charleston has gained from the presence of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.
What is even more than peculiar to me is that although I have driven over the Stan Musial Veterans memorial Bridge numerous times, I don't have one picture of the bridge. What does that tell you?